DEVO's message has never changed: De-Evolution is real. Mankind's ever escalating reliance on automation and technological advancement, and our continued belief in branding, marketing, packaging, producing, selling, and compulsively consuming CRAP, continues the inevitable regression of our society. Why think for ourselves when corporate marketing execs, ad reps, and attorneys have been hired by our teachers, preachers and politicians to think for us?!? Our brains have been lulled to sleep and our independence whittled down by pointless choices between Ford or Toyota, Dell or HP, Eddie Bauer or Casual Corner, McD's or Burger King. Monkey Men All, as a species we're one small step away from flinging feces at each other.
The De-Evolutionary message was loud and clear Thursday and Friday night in Chicago.
"DEVO's got the blues alright. Not because our best friend ran off with our girlfriend. Not because we lost all our money at a blackjack table. But because fundamentalist nutjobs of all denominations have taken over our planet and we can't get no satisfaction!"
DEVO played two blistering, incredibly high energy sets that just can't be adequately described with words. I've seen plenty of shows: Dinosaurs like The Who, the Rolling Stones, the Dead, Pink Floyd and Page/Plant; angry Industrial acts like Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson; techno Industrial acts like My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult and the Lords of Acid; funk like P-Funk, Prince, and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers; alternagrungewhateverlabel acts like Pearl Jam, Jane's Addiction and the Smashing Pumpkins, and plenty more. None of them had the energy and enthusiasm shown on stage by DEVO. Of course, none of those bands have the extra energy boosts provided by DEVO's Energy Domes! Regardless of the secret ingredient, just as there's no comparing DEVO's music to anyone else on the planet, there's just no comparing a DEVO concert to any other performance. DEVO are truly in a league of their own.
After teasing us with several excellent recorded tracks from Jerry's upcoming first ever solo album, "Jihad Jerry and the Evildoers," the audience was primed for the show. General Boy's introductory movie and video montage set the stage, and once the curtain rose for That's Good it was Devolution at its best. The highlights of the sets both nights included fan faves like Mongoloid, Uncontrollable Urge, Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA, and the newly added thrill of Wiggly World. The best performance each night was DEVO's definitive devolutionary anthem Jocko Homo, but every song was a thrill. (Complete set list below.)
Excuse the bragging, but this reviewer's hard earned position (I was about fifth in line Thursday and first in line Friday) in the center of the front row both nights offered an incredible perspective three feet from the stage, and gave me the opportunity to solo sing "We Are DEVO" into the mic during Jocko Homo both nights! This vantage also offered the opportunity to snag a Bob1 pick, to have one of Mark's carefully aimed picks bounce off my shoulder, and to grab a hunk of Jerry's shredded radiation suit. Ahhhh life's little treasures, like a small hunk of a shredded yellow suit torn off of a sweaty fifty year old plus musician...
After Thursday nights show singer/co-founder Mark Mothersbaugh and his brother Bob1 came out to graciously sign autographs, including my Energy Dome, and shake the hands of those of us who had to linger. I could have gotten another autograph on my Energy Dome at breakfast Friday morning at the HOB's hotel restaurant, but I sure don't like to be bothered while I'm eating breakfast, so I figured I wouldn't bother Jerry in the a.m. either. Hopefully I'll get a shot next year in another DEVO appearance, a Jihad Jerry and the Evildoers appearance, or both!
For those of you on the West Coast there are still opportunities to catch DEVO Live in 2005... But let us not forget to toast those of you who might have missed the boat, and to everybody else who waits till the next one sails in again let's hope for a 2006 tour!
General Boy intro movie
Girl U Want
Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA
Gates of Steel
Freedom of Choice
Gut Feeling/Slap your Mammy
Come Back Jonee
Bob1 photo by Gary Edwards mutated by Captain Corruption please don't use without permission.